In Kashmir, an Eid without fervour under the shadow of Covid-19

As in all other places, it will be an Eid like no other in living memory in Kashmir also.

The lockdown to check the spread of Covid-19 has meant that there are few shoppers and with the economy heading south, not many are willing to spend either.

Unlike the usual buzz around Eid in Kashmir, when markets used to hum with thousands of shoppers, there is just quietness around this time. With the fervor missing, Eid is set to be a sombre festival, though many people could be seen thronging around the designated bakeries and confectionery shops. But in many places, officials swung into action and sealed many shops for violations of social distancing..

Kashmir Chamber of Commerce Federation and Industries president Sheikh Ashiq said that Eid used to be a big business activity in Kashmir. “Ahead of Eid, businessmen used to get different items in bulk and sales used to be between Rs 300 to 500 crores which was a big stimulus for businessmen. But now our losses are vast if we compare from lockdown to lockdown.’’

Prior to Eid, business worth hundreds of crores of rupees used to be conducted across the valley as every household used to make purchases. “This time only people were buying essentials items and many shopkeepers had not even made the Eid delicacies including bakery products due to Covid-19,’’ said Wajhat Ahmad, a hotelier.

Compared to previous days, a surge in the traffic movement was visible on Saturday. However, most shops were closed and only a few shops selling groceries and confectioneries were open especially those which had official permission.

“This is the first time when I feel the hustle and bustle of Eid is missing. Only 10 percent of people are shopping in the markets. With closure of shops, the people prefer limited shopping in their places,’’ said Abdul Gaffar, who owns a confectionery shop in the iconic Lal Chowk area.

Even many prominent bakeries remained shut. “Our staff had gone home and there was no demand for bakery products so we didn’t prepare any items,’’ said manager of a prominent bakery on the Residency Road.

Meanwhile, Srinagar district administration took action against over 50 stores and 80 vehicle owners for violation of restrictions. The action was taken during an inspection that the District Magistrate Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary conducted.

The DM inspected markets at several places including Sanantnagar, Hyderpora, Chhanpora, Bagh-e-Mehtab, Jawahar Nagar, south city and Batmalloo. “During the inspection it was found that a large number of non-essential and non-permitted shops including readymade garments, furniture, hardware, and others were illegally operating. Violations of social distancing norms and hygiene were also seen at many department stores and bakeries,’’ a senior officer of Srinagar district administration said.

Even at many places there was a shortage of essentials and especially chicken and meat. “It’s unfortunate that chicken which used to sell Rs 130 rupees a kilogram was sold at Rs 180 and meat was not also available as many butchers hadn’t opened their shops. It doesn’t look like Eid is tomorrow,’’ said Nisar Ahmad, a businessman. “This is the second time in an year when we will be celebrating Eid like this, the last Eid we couldn’t celebrate due to curfew was imposed after the Article 370 was abrogated and this time Eid us under lockdown of Covid-19.’’

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